Improving public access to medicines and promoting pharmaceutical innovation
Health is a fundamental human right, and achieving equality in access to medicines is crucial for ensuring public health. The current system of innovation strongly relies on the private sector, while remuneration of innovation is mainly based on exclusivities. This system presents several issues, such as innovation being driven by market size, the partial misalignment between industry’s research and development (R&D) priorities and public health goals, access constraints, and the scarcity of disruptive innovations. In this context, this study analyses the impact of different R&D incentive mechanisms and alternative frameworks that may contribute to pharmaceutical innovation and public health. In particular, the study analyses the implications for innovation and accessibility, in terms both of prices and of availability. Based on an extensive review of the literature combined with interviews with expert stakeholders, the study offers a range of policy options. These seek to ensure the development of accessible drugs in all clinical areas, improve availability, price and research and development cost transparency, and ensure preparedness in the event of emergencies. Policy options suggested include strengthening EU coordination on intellectual property rights and medicine procurement, reducing the length of exclusivities, and introducing specific incentives (subscription models) de-linked from market size for specific unmet medical needs (antimicrobials and rare diseases with extremely low prevalence). A further suggestion is the creation of a public infrastructure active throughout the whole drug research and development process. A combination of policies would exceed the sum of its components, by generating additional synergies.
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European Parliament / Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) (STOA)
Improving public access to medicines and promoting pharmaceutical innovation (STOA)